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Tracklist: 1. Halloween Part I 20:30 a) Halloween Song (1:20) b) Tired Answers (9:30) c) Colours of Childhood (6:00) d) Sorrow In My Dreams (3:40) 2. Halloween Part II 18:40 a) Lone Fantasy (4:50) b) Dawn Over Darkness (6:10) c) Misty Garden of Passion (2:15) d) Fear of Frost (3:35) e) Time (1:50) All music composed, arranged, performed, and produced by Pulsar. Lyrics by Armand Fines. Line-up: Jacques Roman - analog & digital keyboards, & Mellotron Gilbert Gandil - electric & acoustic guitars (+ vocals - on 1-c, 1-d, & 2-b) Roland Richard - flute & clarinet; piano & string-ensemble Victor Bosch - drums & percussion, & vibes Michel Mason - bass guitar With: Jean Ristori - cello (on Halloween-II) Guest female vocalizes - on 1-a Guest male vocalizes - on 2-e Guest male & female back vocalists - on 1-c & 2-b Recorded & mixed by Jean Ristori at "Aquarius" studio, Geneva, Switzerland.
Prologue. Last week I received from Bernard Gueffier, the manager of Musea Records, a few of those legendary albums of French Progressive that I was eager to listen to since 1997, when I discovered such a wonderful source as the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock. These are: Carpe Diem's "En Regardant Passer le Temps", "Shekina" by Zao, "Tertio" by Atoll, Halloween's "Le Festin" (this time, I decided to choose their latest album instead of "Merlin"), and the hero of this review, the third Pulsar album "Halloween". While I am at least a little acquainted with the creation of most of the said bands (the only exception being Carpe Diem), I did not have the opportunity to hear these very albums by them before. (Within the next two weeks, I'll return to reviewing the relatively recent and new CD releases by Musea.)
The Album. . I read many reviews where Pulsar has been compared to Pink Floyd in general and "Halloween" to "Wish You Were Here" in particular. IMHO, there is nothing (at least almost nothing) common between these two bands and their music. Some stylistic parallels can be drawn between Pulsar and Eloy, though each of these bands had a different and, overall, very original approach to the further development of Classic Symphonic Space Rock. (Which, in fact, is just a blend of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Space Rock. Really, there is a huge difference between Pulsar and Eloy (also Gong, in some ways) and the Classic Space Rock bands, such as Hawkwind and Clear Blue Sky, not to mention the performers of electronic space music, like Tangerine Dream.) Before I listened to "Halloween", I thought that stylistically, it should be a really integral album (like Jethro Tull's "Thick As a Brick", for instance). However, it turned out to be that the parts of the only composition on the album are rather different among themselves, which is regardless that only three out of the nine parts of "Halloween" are songs. These are Colours of Childhood, Sorrow In My Dreams, and Down Over Darkness (1-c, 1-d, & 2-b), and all the parts of lead vocal are there of a dramatic character. There are only vocalizes on both of the album's opening and closing parts, Halloween Song and Time. The first of them entirely consists of the slow and quiet passages of piano and the soft female vocalizes. Time features passages of Mellotron, all of which are slow and symphonic as well, and the male operatic tenor. Both of these pieces sound very symphonic. By the way, Halloween-II is mostly of the same character, and the arrangements that are featured on it are, on the whole, much richer than those on Halloween-I. Four out of the five parts of Halloween-II: Lone Fantasy, Dawn Over Darkness, Misty Garden of Passion, and the aforementioned Time (2-a, b, c, & e), represent nothing else but a real Symphonic Art-Rock. If not to count the said Halloween Song, only the last track of Halloween-I, the short song Sorrow In My Dreams (1-d), is about a pure Symphonic Art-Rock. The real, fast and hard-edged, Space Rock jam is present only on each of the following (or remaining, if you will) three parts: Tired Answers, Colours of Childhood, and Fear of Frost (1-b, c, & 2-d), though the first of them is the longest track on the album. However, the arrangements that are typical for Classic Space Rock occupy the spaces that are closer to the end of each of these three tracks. While the first two thirds of each of these compositions consist of the slow, dramatic, and purely symphonic arrangements. The symphonic structures of the album were for the most part created by passages of acoustic guitar, piano, Mellotron, and string ensemble, and solos of flute and, sometimes, bass guitar. Along with all of these features, Halloween-II contains also the excellent passages and solos of cello. Owing to the slow character of most of the arrangements that were done in the vein of Symphonic Art-Rock, the parts of drums are really diverse only within the framework of the Space Rock jams. The latter include the soloing parts by all of the band members, though the 'chief' instruments here are various synthesizers, electric and bass guitars, and still the same flute.
Summary. Doubtless, Pulsar's "Halloween" is one of the major progressive albums of the second half of the 1970s, as well as their previous album, "The Strands of the Future". (They're, in my view, on par with each other.) While not a complete masterpiece, "Halloween" is excellent by all means and from the first to the last note. Nevertheless, I now know that this album is slightly overrated. In that way, I still regard Eloy as the best representative of Symphonic Space Rock. Nevertheless, if you're much into such music that, as an example, was typical for the third phase of Eloy's creation (1976 to 1979) and, like me, haven't heard "Halloween" up to now, this album would be an essential addition to your collection. As for the great Pink Floyd, the band that continuously transformed their originally unique style, that's absolutely another story.
VM. July 30, 2002
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